Baker Mayfield has watched plenty of his friend Kyler Murray throughout the season. It just hasn't been as a casual fan.
Because the Browns have drawn the NFC West this season, Mayfield has seen some of Murray's plays while analyzing the opposing defenses in Murray's division. His focus has been less on how Murray has found success as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals and more on how the teams within Murray's division try to fluster the position Murray plays.
Even though he hasn't been able to watch him much in the traditional sense, Mayfield can certainly relate to the whirlwind Murray's experiencing as a rookie. He's been able to relate to a lot of other things, too, considering both players starred at Texas high schools, began their respective college careers at colleges they'd ultimately leave before thriving at Oklahoma, won the Heisman Trophy and went on to become the No. 1 picks in back-to-back seasons.
Their paths cross Sunday on Murray's new home field, marking the first time they'll be on opposite sidelines from one another since Murray was the scout team quarterback during Mayfield's senior season at Oklahoma.
"I am obviously very happy for him," Mayfield said after Wednesday's practice. "I remember I was eating dinner with my family when he won the Heisman last year and just how excited I was for him. He deserves all of that, and it is going to be really fun to play against him."
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Cardinals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
Mayfield and Murray won the Heisman at the same school, under the same coach, within the same offensive system and at a high enough of a level to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, but they did it their own way with their own personal flair.
Mayfield was the ultra competitive, heart-on-his-sleeve, two-time walk-on who led the Sooners to multiple College Football Playoff appearances thanks to his deft accuracy and mastery of Lincoln Riley's offense over three seasons as a starter. Murray was a five-star prospect who began his career at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma after his freshman season. Just a couple weeks after the Browns selected Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Murray was selected ninth overall in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Oakland Athletics. Though he signed a contract with the Athletics, Murray ultimately chose football after putting up numbers as similarly eye-popping as Mayfield's while also rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a true, dual-threat weapon in his one season as the starter.
Mayfield has repeatedly brushed off any theories that his early success in Cleveland had anything to do with the Cardinals taking Murray with the first overall pick.
"I think our games are different," Mayfield said. "Just his arm talent alone is very special. The things he is able to do when he throws the ball, it comes out different. When you see it in person, you will understand what I am talking about. Obviously, his speed is next level. He is very quick and you try tackling him in a phone booth. He is a tough guy to defend."
Success hasn't come as easily for Murray as it did for Mayfield during his rookie season, but there have certainly been flashes. Murray's thrown for 3,060 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions while adding 448 yards on the ground while operating an offense coordinated by first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, who just so happened to be Mayfield's first coach at the collegiate level when Mayfield started as a freshman at Texas Tech.
For a time, Mayfield had a strained relationship with Kingsbury, but the two have since mended fences. Both spoke highly of the other Wednesday while stressing their focus was centered on Sunday's game.
"I have been proud of his success and what all he has accomplished, it has been phenomenal to watch," Kingsbury said. "It will be fun to go out there with Kyler and compete against him. There are a lot of strong relationships there, so it will be a heck of a matchup."
Mayfield made it clear near the end of his media session there would be some real chatter between Murray and himself after one of them scores the first victory against the other.
"This is real bragging rights, being in the same quarterback room for a few years and just razzing each other back and forth," Mayfield said. "It's going to be a good one."